Sharing Our Faith Together

Worship for 24 April 2022 - 1st after Easter

by Andy Cokayne 24 April 2022

Welcome to worship this morning. The service below reflects the service taking place in our church buildings today. 

Our opening hymn is “From heaven you came helpless babe"

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Opening Prayers 
(from Prayers for the People 9.20 adapted)
Almighty God, our heavenly Father, we have sinned and let you and ourselves down, by what we have done and what we have not done, by our weakness, and by our own deliberate fault. We ask that through Jesus, and his sacrifice willing made on the cross, we may know our sins forgiven and our relationship with you put right. 
In Jesus name we ask. Amen

(from Prayers for the People 9.38)
Our Lord Jesus Christ, risen from death, we praise you for changed lives and new hopes at Easter:

You came to Mary in the garden, and turned her tears into joy. For your love and mercy: We give you thanks, O Lord

You came to the disciples in the upper room, and turned their fear into courage. For your love and mercy. We give you thanks, O Lord.

You came to the disciples by the lakeside, and turned their failure into faith. For your love and mercy. We give you thanks, O Lord.

You came to the disciples on the Emmaus road, and turned their despair into hope. For your love and mercy. We give you thanks, O Lord.

You come to us in our unworthiness and shame, and turn our weakness into triumph. For your love and mercy. We give you thanks, O Lord.

Lesson – John 20 v 19-31  

Hymn – When I survey the wondrous cross

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Prayers of Intercession 
We pray for our world, for the war-torn areas, and particularly at this time the war in Ukraine, for all those affected by the war, particularly those in the areas of Ukraine who are under bombardment. We pray for the leaders of both Ukraine and Russia, that a right peace would be established. 
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayers.

We pray for our own country, and the challenges we face, we pray for the government and opposition, that wise decisions will made that would enable all to cope with the different challenges that we face, particularly those hardest hit by the continuing increase in prices.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayers.

We pray for those who continue to suffer through the Pandemic, for those who seek to bring them help and encouragement, and for those who seek to aid their healing and recovery.

For wisdom and self-control for us all, that we may use wisely the earth’s resources that are placed at our disposal. 
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayers, in Jesus’ name we pray.  

Let us share together in the prayer that Jesus taught us,
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done; on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Hymn – StF780 How deep the Fathers love for us

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What is your story of coming to faith in Jesus?

Is it one of seeing a blinding light like Paul, or is it one where you had been brought up in a Christian home, and there was a gradual realisation that Jesus loved you, and it was up to you what you did with that knowledge?

Or your story may be somewhere in between.

Everyone is different, no 2 testimonies are the same, because we are all different.

Easter is a big part of the Christian story. 

Perhaps you are still considering what Easter means to you!

Several of us had the privilege before Easter of sharing Jesus with nearly 200 school    children, from 2 of the local Junior schools. Sue Muessig had organised something called ‘Experience Easter’ with these 2 schools, and got a number of volunteers to assist in telling the story of Easter. Each of us had a station to talk about, like the Garden, the Last Supper, and the Resurrection. Sue had given me the cross, and there were various crosses to touch and feel, and then to talk about what happened at the cross, and what it meant to us as Christians. 

It was interesting to listen to some of the children’s questions. One lad said to me, “You’ve got it wrong; you know. Jesus didn’t die, one of his friends died for him.” “Oh!” I said. “Why did he do that?” Silence was the reply “He must have loved him a lot.” 

Another child said, “Jesus didn’t die on the cross, he died of a heart attack.” “So what happened on the cross?” I asked. Silence was again the reply. 

A very honest child asked, “I’m a Muslim, can I touch these crosses?” Because do not   forget Muslim’s, along with most other faiths, believe in Jesus as a historical figure. That he was a good man, even a mighty prophet. But not that he was God’s one and only son.

 At that time of year, that first Easter, crowds throng Jerusalem, it was a great festival for the Jews, it was when they celebrated Passover. The time in their history when God had miraculously delivered them and brought them out of Egypt. It was a great time of celebration. Then after the Passover had been celebrated the thousands of pilgrims that had made their way to Jerusalem, the centre of the Jewish faith, made their way home.
But this group of pilgrims, who had gone to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover with their leader Jesus, were now dumbfounded. They were first of all saddened, even heartbroken. Their leader had been arrested, falsely accused on trumped up charges, given the death sentence, and then executed. For what? Being a good man! Teaching people about God! Healing people and making them well! Having compassion on a crowd that had gone out into the wilderness to listen to him, and when it was late feeding them! What had he done wrong? Yet he had got on the wrong side of the authorities, and that was his downfall. 

Their leader had been taken, but what if the authorities were not satisfied with just getting rid of their leader, what if they wanted to get rid of them, his close friends as well? Suddenly their sadness turned to fear as well.

On the first day of the week after resting on the Sabbath, a group of women had gone to the tomb to anoint his body, and found the stone that had sealed the tomb removed, they had gone and told Simon Peter and John, who went and verified what the women had said. 

Then Jesus had appeared to Mary Magdalene, then to Cleopas and his friend who were on their way to Emmaus. 

From sadness, and fear, they were now confused. What was happening? What had happened?

Could Jesus really be alive? But we had seen him die? No-one survives a Roman crucifixion. The Romans were experts at executions, the cross was final, they knew how to do a proper job, and they had with Jesus. 

Jesus was dead. But what was this that Mary and the other 2 had seen? It must have been his ghost, and they got confused because of their emotions. That’s the answer. His ghost is what they have seen.

Amongst all the emotions, the rational disciples had decided what had happened, it was his ghost that had been seen, problem solved. But their sadness and fear remained.

Then, about a week later, when they were all together, in the upper ‘with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said “Peace be with you!”’ (v19). It was a usual greeting, that he must have given them many times before, but this time it was different. How could Jesus, who was dead, say “Peace be with you!”

In Luke’s account, we read that he showed them his hands and feet, and offered for them to touch him, so that they could know for themselves for sure, that this was not a ghost that stood before them. He then asked for some fish to eat so, again, they could see he was not a ghost, and stood and ate it in their presence. We read that they struggled to   believe, yet were in joy and amazement.

 ‘Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.’ Luke records.  Jesus went on to explain all that was written about him, and they were witnesses of these things.

 What a story they had. It was their story. Each gospel records slightly different details, because each told their story to Matthew, Mark, and Luke, and of course John could tell his own story, of that first Easter, and how they had come to faith in Jesus.

What about you, what does Easter mean to you?

What is your story? It will be different to everyone else, because God has made each of us unique. 

Hymn – Blessed assurance 

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The grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all evermore. Amen

'The UK Blessing'

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